flour + water

the early technology of resistance & critique
snipes and posters from the naguals press 1997–2021

Flour + Water explores the work of the graphic design collective Naguals Press and their practice of wheat pasting snipes and posters. In the age of Tik Tok, Twitter and apps that allow you to make memes on your phone, wheat pasting emerges as an early technology of resistance and critique. Wheat paste is natural glue made from kitchen flour mixed with water and commonly used in papier-mâché and crafts. A wheat pasting campaign is almost a primal craft in its development and execution. Sometimes posters are made of hand drawn art or photographs copied, cut out and manipulated into collages. Finally they are reproduced in small batches and in secret with one’s office copier. Under the cover of night the paper copies are adhered to the city’s most visible municipal electrical boxes, construction barriers and concrete walls with the primitive all-purpose glue. While the posters only remain posted across the urban landscape for a brief moment in time, the influence of their messaging may be felt for years.

This installation and website, a curated collection dating from 1997 – 2021, are a retrospective of Naguals as a form of political messaging through . Twenty-three designers have worked to create posters that agitate, enlighten, combat injustice and transcend mainstream channels, yet speak to a wide audience. The campaigns range from local Los Angeles politics, issues of land use from Hawaii to the South Bay Area, anti-gentrification, homelessness, and anti-war. Many posters have been translated into Tagalog, Mandarin, Spanish and English to communicate to the diverse communities of Northeast Los Angeles. 

Thank you to the Andrew W. Mellon Arts and Technology Grant for assistance in developing this piece of community history. Thank you to CCBL, the Center for Community Based Learning at Occidental College, for their support of community groups, many of whom work to fight the issues illustrated through this project. CCBL has consistently provided the resources needed to support the missions of community groups and given voice to community members throughout Northeast Los Angeles. 

naguals press would also like to acknowledge:

> The twenty-three anonymous designers that have donated their time and energy to Naguals.

> Language justice partners who assisted in the translation and development of posters.

> The copywriters who assisted and guided designers.

> The two founding designers and their enduring friendship when they crossed each other’s path of self-discovery.

> The dozens of supporters from the different collectives and groups who braved the nights and wet, freezing glue to spread the word.

> The generous folks whose office equipment we drained of life, almost. When we said “we have an idea”, their response was always, “send me the file!”

> The audience who walked the streets at night, caught us pasting and asked for copies. We were honored that you thought so highly of our dribble when we were not so famous as Robbie Conal’s crew and Shepard Fairy’s brand… —Naguals Press

> Grace Hut, assistant curator

> Rae Hirschfield-Smith, assistant curator

> John Urquiza, curator

> Arturo Romo, essay

> Willa Hut, poster illustration

special thanks for assistance in developing the digital archive

Grace Haggerty

Shanna Lorenz

naguals press

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/// naguals production standards

There usually is always more than one way to achieve a goal. These are a few things Naguals Press folks have learned about wheat pasting over the years that they would like to share. Figure out what works best for you.

print, design reproduction specification
making glue

print specifications

> 11″x17” typical snipe

Posters are available in PDF form. File is hi resolution (300 dpi rgb / 600 k only), 11″x17″ and prints 1/colour (k, black), no bleeds.

Best if prints to high-volume laser copy machine from file and cheapest bond paper, but if not available can print master and make copies.

page set up: 11″x17″

set up to print: 100%

Printers have different margins. Test at 100% to make sure no image or type gets cut off. If it does then switch to “shrink to fit.” If you have a full bleed, it will always have a 1/4” margin because laser copiers and printers cannot print to the edge. Only an inkjet plotter can print on a larger paper, then it must be trimmed.

quantity: is up to what you can post up!

> alternative larger poster

Fedex has a cheap 1/color plotter that can print oversized prints. Here are some specifications for three basic sizes and costs. If you want bigger they charge by square foot.

19″x29” or print file at 170%

Costs $2.75-$3.50 each. This size is slightly smaller on the typical municipal electrical box. Good if you are on a budget.

22″x34” or print file at 200%

Costs about $6.00 each. This size is a perfect fit for a typical municipal electrical box.

36”x56” or print file at 330%

Costs about $23.00. Make a statement on a high-profile wall…

> paper

best: 24lb bond (Fedex has)

For both oversized and 11″x17″: If paper is too thin it will disintegrate in glue or water. If paper is 28lb or thicker it will require more glue on 11″x17″. On larger prints it will be too heavy and paper will bubble and eventually slide off the substrate before it can dry.

glue making

You can get these supplies at a hardware store and grocery store for about $20.


• pitcher for hot water (just under boiling hot water)

• 2-5 gallon bucket (for mixing and/or application)


• stir stick from the paint department (light mixing)

• egg beater (workout mixing)

• drill with a paint mixing paddle (serio mixing)

• flour sifter or something similar

• cheap 59 cent paint brushes (wooden handled)


• bottle of Elmer’s White Glue (not required)

One gallon if you plan to do a lot. This is the most expensive thing on the list and you can use a little or a lot depending on how long you want to keep up the print.

• 5 lb bag of flour (will use 1/3 to 1/2 depending on mix)

making effective glue

1) Bring water to a boil and let cool enough to pour into plastic bucket w/o melting. Pour about half of the amount you want to make into bucket.

2) Sift flour into bucket and stir. Repeat until you have the desired amount of glue. If it gets clumpy, use egg beater to break apart.

3) Start with 3:2 ratio of water gal. : flour lb. or higher… keep adding flour or water until you have the right consistency. Glue should be lightly viscous. After adding Elmer’s becomes thicker, but not slimy.

If it is too watery when it dries it will crack and peel off. If it is too thick you will run out of glue too soon and it is much harder to clean up.

Two gallons of glue will work for about 250-300 11″x17″ snipes. Cut portions in half for smaller print runs. Start preparing the glue several hours before you go out with time to cool down.

4) Optional: Add Elmer’s at the very end of the process to the bucket and mix well. Elmer’s acts as a sealer and more glue gives it a harder coat when it dries. Too much Elmer’s will not allow it to be applied easily and makes your brushes chunky. And, it’s expensive…

5) Application

a) Until you are comfortable with mounting, take a poster without glue and position where you want to glue it first. Use the edge of the box or wood to align it straight, then briefly memorize its position.

b) 11″x17” lay face down on a clean surface (usually the street) and use brush to slather glue all over the back. Pay particular attention to the corners. Do NOT put pressure on the brush. Just push the glue around. If it’s too wet pushing too hard can tear the paper.

c) When you have sufficient glue on the back, gently pick up from corners and position on the final surface.

d) After positioning corners where you memorized earlier, using your brush starting from the edges you put down first AND/OR from the center (without pressure) push the glue to the edges removing air bubbles. And again, make sure you have enough glue on the corners.

e) 19″x29” or larger. The larger you get the more help you may need. The steps are essentially the same, except you can also add glue to the surface before positioning poster. We start with the poster rolled up and as we unroll we apply glue. Bubbles and corners become extra important on the larger sizes, because it can be compromised; when it dries someone can come along and start peeling up from the edge.

d) 36″x56” or larger needs at least three people.

note. If you do not finish the glue in one night you can put in refrigerator. It can last up to a week or two, but if left unused for too long or unrefrigerated it will get moldy.

really strong glue!

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/// naguals community agreements

wheat pasting best practices
suggested applications
encountering police

We as the poster collective Naguals Press ask that you respect these guidelines if using our art in an effort to be intentional and targeted with our message and actions. Your actions are a reflection of our art, messages and campaigns as well as the greater struggle. Thank you.

wheat pasting best practices

• 11×17 snipes are applied with a water-soluble adhesive aka wheat paste.

• We do NOT target private property**.

• We are NOT responsible for individuals or groups who undertake these steps, nor do we condone this behavior. However, we recognize you are all autonomous individuals and we are honored to share voices with you.

• If you use this art out of context or egregiously outside of these guidelines and/or for your own personal gain we reserve the right to not associate with you and your group and to cease providing you any further art requests.

**Exceptions: single-family homes or multi-family buildings where it has been documented people of color have been harassed or displaced by eviction, rent increases or unscrupulous landlords.

suggested application sites

Always scope out your locations in the daylight beforehand. Look for surveillance cameras, good walls and electrical boxes.

1st choice
city-owned electrical boxes
plywood construction barriers

2nd choice
newspaper dispensers
rolling container trash cans
local city trash cans

3rd choice
thick metal streetlight poles
wooden telephone poles

no way, never a choice. has greater consequences.
federal property
post office boxes
private homes & business of POC

They may be problematic, but we do not support this unless a discussion occurs to vet the subject thoroughly in the quest to be as accurate as possible.

electrical boxes w/artwork or murals

This is a mixed guideline. Many cities have been appropriating electrical boxes for art programs. We do not paste up on community murals, local artists or community memorials. However, we have encountered memorials that have been installed by government officials as personal memorials for their families or causes. That is a completely legit target. Do your research.

da police & da consequences

If the police show up, here are some tips to avoid confrontation.

DO NOT panic.

DO NOT run.

Be respectful and answer all questions.

Don’t give them a reason to be dicks.

When asked, “what are you doing?”, the correct answer is “working on an ART PROJECT”.

If you are not doing anything “destructive” to private property then they will most likely leave you alone.

“Destruction of private property” is defined as creating more than $200 in damage to a home or business. If they try to accuse you of that, respectfully explain that the glue you are using is water soluble and can be washed away.

This is typically not an arrestable offence. The officer may make it a warning or a citation. 

If they ask you to leave, then leave… You can always go to another neighborhood or come back another night.

Minimize police and public contact by going during non-peak hours. Sundays through Wednesdays after 11:00 pm and after midnight are best. After Thursday contact with people and police increases. If weekends are the only days available, then after “last call” or 2:30 am is best.

Be safe. We value you and your spirit.

naguals press

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